First came my next door neighbor of 15 years. Inoperable Stage 3b lung cancer. Then came one of my dearest friends. Stage 3a ovarian cancer. Then came my mother. Surgery to remove a dead section of colon. She woke to a bag. With all this in the last 3 weeks, the weight of it sank me into my darkest, most lifeless self. When Linda asked how I was doing---would I like to talk about it?--- I just shrugged and stared into…well…that’s the question isn’t it? Where does the best of me go when hope fades?
No place good. That I can tell you for sure. At times, hopelessness is a regular buddy of mine, like the empty stool next to me in a lonely bar. And if following my beer’s sinking suds isn’t bad enough for me, what does it do for those I love, for those I’ve lost hope for?
Less than nothing. I recall my first phone conversation with my mom after her surgery. I’m embarrassed to admit that part of me couldn’t wait to end the call. Sure she sounded terrible. Who wouldn’t? But looking back I wonder how much I contributed to her smoke-filled mood. Did my hopeless attitude transfer over the phone line? And if so, did any of her healing angels hide in the gloom? And if I can’t pull my head out of my beer, what am going to say to my old neighbor? My dear friend? My dear friend’s troubled partner?
Nothing. That’s why yesterday, for the first time ever, I made a seemingly simple decision.
I decided to choose hope.
What a head-slapper that was: to realize I could choose hope as surely as I could chose a better stool, the one next to all my friends. Long ago I learned that forgiveness is a choice---a choice I might have to remake every day---but a choice nonetheless. So too I suddenly realized with hope.
How silly of me to take so long to realize hope is a choice. I mean, you’re reading the blog of one the biggest Lord of the Rings fans in the observable universe. “There’s always hope,” says Aragorn. And Tolkien was clear: not only is despair a sin of sorts, buts it’s also a simple mistake. Since no one---not even the all-seeing me---knows for sure what is going to happen, then my iron-clad belief in the inevitable tragedy is just plain wrong. As such, there always is hope.
Who can say what inspired me? No doubt my daily walks on the ever-emerging prairie touched my heart. Perhaps my turning point came a few months back, when I tried to write the author blurb for the back cover of my novel. Struggling to summarize, I finally wondered what drove me to devote 9 years to this endeavor anyway. What is it I believed so strongly? After writing and scratching out dozens of entries, I finally penned the following. “Michael Larsen believes that a MUCH better world is coming.” And if that weren’t enough I surprised myself by adding one more word: “SOON”.
Hmmm…I thought, I guess I am a person of some hope. Inexplicably wild hope! Coming out of my closet of despair, I typed those words of hope for all the world to see. Or at least all the world that reads the author blurb of my novel.
Glowing in the light of my newfound hope, I called my mom yesterday. For 15 minutes, we talked like normal human beings. Even laughing. And what could be more healing---for both of us---than a good, heartfelt laugh?
I’m looking forward to talking to my dear friend’s troubled partner. To sharing the light, the light when all other lights go out. The Light of Hope.
And the first sparks of hope are no more than a decision away.